Mary Pitt: US Border Security
United States Border Security
by Mary Pitt
In a recent television interview, T. J. Bonnes, president of the National Border Patrol Association, states that the border control is in crisis with half the personnel considering finding other employment. 64% per cent state that there are not enough personnel while 76% say that the requirement that they work from "fixed positions" prevents them from being effective in controlling the flow of illegals into the country. They feel that "9/11 should have been a wake-up call" and insufficient resources have been invested in their work. Illegal entrants flow over the border in numbers that make control impossible and the men suffer from intense frustration at their inability and lack of resources to handle the problem of determining whether any of them are actually a threat to our national safety. They have not enough weapons, body armor, computers, data bases, or manpower to do an acceptable job.
While the word, "billions", falls off the tongues of Federal budgeteers more easily by the day and the cost of war and occupation increases, the budget deficit begins to make the word "trillions" much more common and there appears to be no intention to assay to remedy this border insecurity. Surely a nation so adept at innovation and technology could develop a way to assure that only those who have prior approval have opportunity to enter and to threaten our homeland. And certainly, since we are to be indebted for the far foreseeable future in order to pursue the "war on terror", we should be investing some of our funds as well as our much-vaunted inventiveness in order to protect our homeland from this threat.
It is true that we are not surrounded with a natural barrier that makes it simple to accomplish this and several methods may be necessary. However, measures have been taken to secure our ports and to prevent access by sea. Passports and visas are being required and carefully checked at ports of entry, but the points of insecurity are between those points, in the deserts and wastelands of the Southwest and the forests and plains on the North. In these areas the border may be "crossed" by simply stepping over an imaginary line or by rowing a boat across a lake or river from Canada or by wading a shallow river under cover of night from Mexico and points south. We are told that building fences is not a practical solution and that it is "impossible" to maintain a large enough contingent of Border Patrol to be able to surveil these borders at all times.
But is it truly impossible? Can it be that such a great nation lies so helpless before the horde of people bent on living the good life as they see it or on the destruction of our very lives? Is there really no way to keep these interlopers from threatening our safety and our livelihood? Or is it, in this time of extreme urgency, that it has never been done and that there is no real dedication to developing a real solution? If we can send up surveillance drones that can allow us to identify Osama Bin Laden from many miles away as he travels by night, can we not, by the same method, see people traversing our borders? Could we not comunicate their location to an adequate Border Patrol, traveling on all-terrain vehicles, who could then intercept the intruders and turn them back or arrest them?
Of course not! It would "cost too much" and we can't afford to do it. It is more important to spend the taxes that will be paid by our children and grandchildren in maintaining a sufficient army to fight the "terrorists" on foreign soil than to prevent them from coming here and causing more American deaths due to our inattention. Can you not already hear the arguments as to why it is "impactical" and "wouldn't work" due to "budget restrictions"? Also, would it not "complicate our relationships" with the governents of the adjoining nations?
It would seem that the officials of our government do protest too much. They use fear of further attacks to keep us sufficiently cowed to tolerate the restrictions of our own Consitutional rights as they range across the world in their wars of conquest, but they do nothing that would be effective to secure our own borders. A "percentage" of shipping cartons are searched at seaports and American citizens are searched down to their shoes before travelling across-country in order to impress us with the fact that we are truly in danger. People with dark or olive skin are profiled by security personnel, medical, library, and bookstore records are subject to unannounced searches and our keystrokes may soon be monitored as we communicate on the internet. But practical means to truly protect our "homeland" from attack are still neglected. Could all the warnings to which we are subjected during this "war on terror" have some other reason? Hmmmm?
We are now being treated to the great show of the Republican National Convention where a veritable herd of "moderates" assure us that it is only through the efforts of George W. Bush that we are now "safe form terrorism" while, at the same time. the warnings continue from the White House that we must fight the enemy "over there" to keep them from coming "over here". We are reminded that only by maintaining a state of fear which requires the surrender of our civil rights and the earnings of future generatiions can we keep from being beheaded by hooded Muslims or blown up on our way to work.
I, for one, prefer to work toward solutions rather than to become so mired in the lamentations about the problem that nothing short of a state of perpetual war is acceptable. We are a great nation that has historically been able to find ways to promote peace and security for all nations. It would seem that now is a good time to crawl out from under our beds and get back to work at it!
Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan who is self-employed and active in the political arena. Her concerns are her four-generation family and the continuance of the United States as a democracy with a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Comments and criticism may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org .